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Singles, Future Islands

Rise Records, February 18, 2014

Track Listing: 1. Seasons (Waiting on You), 2. Spirit, 3. Sun in the Morning, 4. Doves, 5. Back in the Tall Grass, 6. A Song for Our Grandfathers, 7. Light House, 8. Like the Moon, 9. Fall from Grace, 10. A Dream of You and Me  

“If you wait, if you wait for the morning”

-fromA Dream of You and Me

It’s the end of December and you’re going through Mojo’s best albums of the year. You’re feeling a bit jaded and uninspired with that predictable oh, no, not that again feeling. And, yes, just as expected, every recommended track you plug into YouTube keeps living up to its sad hunch of disappointment. With each click you seem to be hyperlinked away into a cyber-auditory world of dullness and sameness. The album picks are so contrived. So underwhelming. Such a shame. The editors really tried hard with a good mix of genres, but the choice just doesn’t seem to add up to anything except a calculable offering of tediousness. Do they do this on purpose?

“Been a long time in a low place
Surrounded by what I have made
Need to get away
Get away from what relates
And what was done…”

-fromA Song for Our Grandfathers

The name and album cover are the first thing that grab you. You plug in a track and wonder, can this be true? Will this carry throughout the entire song? It’s the synths and repetitive bass line that immediately hook you. Then the sudden haunting voice that enters like a bat growl. The dynamic chord progressions and electronic vitality. Then, as if perfectly planned mid-song, the powerful crash of guitar and guttural howl of voice come in driving through into a rage and message that seems not just for you, but for the entire universe.

Oh, my god! An epiphany. The sheer vehemence of the singer’s voice. A gravelly cackle that sounds as if the artist means every word of what he’s singing about. As if he’s actually lived in, and seen, the utter blackness and bleakness of hell itself. As if he’s been slashed and gutted. Dismembered. And that that bludgeoning and harrowing pain is now erupting out somehow from the bottom of his soul. Like some thousand black furies. All the evil of the world exploding from Pandora’s box and the only thing remaining at the bottom, the Spirit of Hope.

“Open wide your winged-eye
Spirit dives to catch your truth
For spirit thrives where darkness comes to challenge you”


You listen to a couple other songs. Is that really a steelpan synth? That thrum of a post-punk northern England bass? And there’s that keyboard effect guitar thunder again. So new and fresh, but recognizable and comforting. You haven’t felt this excited since hearing Joy Division or Interpol. There is something dark and aching and clinical about it all. Like some early ’80s moan from the Factory floor. Black and white and cold and powerful. It simply blows you away.

“I wrestled by the sea
A loneliness in me
I asked myself for peace
And found it at my feet”

-fromA Dream of You and Me

And then the killer. You stumble across a David Letterman performance of the band. Where the hell did this come from? You’ve never seen a live execution like this before. A singer doing a squatting dance and thumping his chest? Yowling? Ice-cold blue eyes that seem to x-ray through walls and laser holes into your soul. A pudgy, middle-aged man who could be your co-worker screaming in the washroom. It’s like a testosterone mix of Henry Rollins and Ian Curtis with James Brown and Otis Redding thrown in. You are dazed. The terms have changed. The world has changed. Nothing can touch or come close to this. Why? Because it is so real.

You are proud to be alive again. Your faith in music is restored. All the pretty videos and social media just don’t matter or live up to this anymore. Just three guys giving every bit of their life and soul and guts to create music. Sweet music. It seems so simple. But not everybody can do it or get away with it. Their trinity has found the ether, and if you touch the lightning bolt they hold in their hands you’ll be zapped to an ashy crisp.

“Making a home in my body
Letting it grow in my body
Taking these chains from my body
Letting it go from my body
Letting it go from my body
Taking these chains from my body
It’s harder than you know”

-fromLike the Moon

You keep plugging away. Previous albums and EPs. You see a pattern. An obscure and highly personal and passionate band who have been spat up from the sea suddenly to the sunny beach of limelight. And rightfully so. You scour the lyrics and are elated to find out the words live up to the music. It’s a huge existential and quintessential find. The pure and utter joy of discovering it. Being able to clench your fist and howl and sing along with it.

“Cause I’ve been waiting on you
I’ve been waiting on you”

-fromSeasons (Waiting on You)

To have faith again. To be moved. Inspired. The sheer beauty of it pouring out of someone’s soul.

“All that glitters is gold
Don’t believe what you’ve been told
People lie, people love, people go
But beauty lies in every soul’’

-fromA Dream of You and Me